Now that there are tomatoes available for picking each day, there’s the extra pleasure of seeing beautiful shades of colour as the different varieties ripen. The Indigo Blue in particular seem to go through several colours until ending a reddish black.
I’ve had to pick some before they’re ready though. One Tigerella plant succumbed to a mould and withered, luckily not troubling the tomatoes themselves, nor any neighbouring plants. And some Indigo Blues had split due to the crazy weather suddenly overwatering them.
The Heinz tomatoes aren’t far from being ready. The variety is interesting for being one of the Heinz company’s occassional releases to the public. They’re not the variety used for making the famous ketchup; I suspect these are experimental varieties which Heinz go through as they develop the main production strains. But it’ll be interesting to taste them. The plants are quite small, with only a moderate number of fruit, but they’re an attractive plum shape.
As well as tomatoes, this weekend’s pickings included chillies, sweet peppers, red spring onions and a courgette/zucchini the size of a small village.
I’ve been patiently watching the small group of poppies that grew in one of the main beds, long after they flowered earlier in the season. The idea is to wait for the large pod-like heads to go brown and crispy and then you can shake out the tiny poppy seeds.
Sure enough this week they seem to have opened up and I was able to shake out the tiny dark seeds. These can be used in baking bread or of course to sow next year to grow more poppies.
Nearby, the Stevia plants are now big enough to pick leaves and try out their sweetening properties. When I sowed the seeds back in February it was with the aim of eventually using some leaves to sweeten a cup of tea. And today I tried just that.
After tearing and bruising a few leaves to release their fragrance, I steeped them in a piping hot cup of ordinary English tea. After a minute there was little effect on the taste. After ten minutes the sweetness had come through, but of course the tea was only warm by that time.
Was it nice? I’m unsure to be honest. The sweetness is very different from sugar: it’s subtler, almost an aftertaste. And at the end it was ever so slightly bitter, but I think that’s down to when and which leaves you pick. I’ll need to research more into the best way to capture the flavour. There are Stevia enthusiasts and experts out there who swear by it. I’ll just make a nice cup of tea to drink while I look into it…